So Much So Fast
ALS, or Lou Gehrig's
disease as it is better known, is still a nearly complete mystery decades
after it took the life of the beloved baseball player whose name became
synonymous with the disease. It is, as the afflicted man in this
touching documentary acknowledges, completely random.
Co-director Jeanne Jordan
had been touched by the affliction before. Her mother became afflicted
by the nerve disease and despite doctor's care and the faith, hope and love
of family, she deteriorated quickly and steadily. The disease is rare
but merciless, stripping the patient of motor functions and eventually the
power of speech, and yet the brain is unaffected, still working fine in the
shattered vessel of the body.
So Jordan and her partner
Steven Ascher had a personal stake in it when they heard the story of
Stephen Heywood, a handsome young man who was stricken, and his brother
Jamie who decided to quit his job and create a "guerrilla" science lab to
find a cure.
So Much So Fast is a
documentary about disease and medicine, but it is not a medical film.
We are only given so much information on the malady, the directors instead
leave it to be experienced. Instead of boring facts, we watch in horror
as the charming, handsome, lively man quickly loses nearly all of his motor
skills and his voice changes to an unintelligible slur before it abandons
Just as fascinating is
Jamie's story. His obsession creates a multi-million dollar enterprise
to research ALS. However, that obsession also eventually wreaks havoc
on his personal life.
The movie also turns its
eyes to the rest of the family and what they experience. The mother is
a sad mixture of doting nurse and a state of denial -- she feels if she
keeps herself busy with caring for her son she won't have time to ponder his
The movie ends on something
of an ambiguous note, not telling us what happened to Stephen, just leaving
him on a North Carolina beach, surrounded by family and friends.
Which, really, is a better way to remember him.
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Posted: October 11, 2006.